The Confoundingly Brilliant Karl S. Williams

Read our glowing review of Heartwood by Karl S Williams

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After releasing his debut solo album Heartwood independently in August 2013, Karl S. Williams returned to the studio, recording a handful of his best songs for a “re-imagined” version of the album, which was released in August 2014.

When I put this CD on, I was not ready for the opening track.  “Time Bomb” is a stunning introduction.  Full of raw power and a threatening tone, it is a rock tour de force, both unforgettable and epic.

“Is This Love” follows and is a radical departure, a Jeff Buckley-infused groove with piano and strings.  The song is as delicate as the previous track was brutal and his vocal range again a feature, although in a radically different way – is it in fact the same singer, such is its contrast?

Different musical territory again for “White Hotel” which is a banjo injected and hand clapping number, spiritual and infectious.  Here’s a clip of that track, created by Williams on his phone.

“Be’elzebub” continues the southern blues religious fervor, this time in electric driving form.  It’s another impressive track.  Stax soul directs “Golden Tears” moving Williams’ voice into a seamless falsetto chorus.

“I Fell for You” is a slow-burning soul tune which stretches into a pleading, questioning ‘Did you fall for me too?’ while “The Darkest Cloud” stakes a little Nick Drake territory with its predominant and tender strings.  It is back to blues territory for the interestingly named “Chief Running Water Sings The Blues” and here Williams’ vocals perfectly suit this more traditional and structured genre with just the correct amount of rise and fall, there’s excellent harmonica as well.

 

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“Seeing Stars” features delicate cello and is another change in pace.  “Ring Around The Moon” is perfectly weighted, with a piano holding an unbending pattern evolving into a slow waltz until the soaring escalation as Williams’ vocals rise to a heavenly level.   “Your Final Bed” is stripped-back, led along by a banjo, with vocals triumphant.

“Not a false step anywhere to be seen.  A music chameleon with talent oozing from every groove.  If you don’t buy many albums, make this one a must”

 

Engineered and produced by Yanto Browning at Airlock Studios, it also features:

Jesse Carroll – drums and percussion

Daniel Aurora – bass

Dan Mansfield – organ and pedal steel

Yanto Browning – electric guitar and percussion

Thelma Plum, Jac Stone, Yanina Benavidez – backing vocals

Brent Moetara – harmonica

Rhys Browning – double bass

 

Heartwood is out on Warner Music and Footstomp

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Williams is heading to New York City taking up an invitation to showcase at CMJ Music Marathon in October 2014 and will then embark on a summer Australian tour.  From all reports his live shows are incredibly adaptable and full of commitment.

 

Read our glowing review of Heartwood by Karl S Williams

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Author: Rob Dickens

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